I was kinda fuming with Secret Diner for writing such a fantastic review of Bistro Forty6 recently. After 3 visits in as many weeks, we had decided it was ‘our’ spot and we’d try and keep it quiet (whilst obviously posting pictures to induce severe food envy from our followers!), so we’d always be guaranteed a spot.
But here’s the thing. Places like Bistro Forty6 don’t come around very often and such a fantastic venue deserves to be shouted about, even if that means sacrificing my favourite table. So here goes – a review to round up three amazing visits to Jesmond’s best-kept secret bistro…
Owned and operated by talented chef, Max Gott, the bistro is all about fresh, locally sourced produce used to create fantastic (and as we discovered, really affordable!) dishes. It’s small but lovely, with space for around 30-odd diners at any one time. There’s a lovely window seat, which is my fave, and the bar is well stocked with good wines, beers and spirits.
We’d first visited during January’s ‘Restaurant Week’. A number of Jesmond proprietors, including Peace and Loaf, Arlo and of course, Bistro Forty6, decided that they’d run a NE2 version of the infamous NE1 Restaurant Week, and the best part was that the promotion had been minimal, so instead of battling crazy queues and limited table time in town, there was fantastic offers in many of Jesmond’s finest restaurants.
Having seen some awesome snaps of the food on Instagram, we decided to book to go to Bistro Forty6 as we’d been to the others already, plus their proposed Restaurant Week menu was far too appealing to not try!
The menu, boasting starters like their Northumbrian Pheasant Croquettes, Pan Fried Scallops with Crispy Belly Pork and Rabbit & Chestnut Mushroom Ravioli, along with main courses including Confit Duck Leg with braised sweetheart cabbage, cured French sausage and the House Jus, or even a Crispy Belly Pork with Tarragon Mash, Tenderstem Broccoli and Spiced Chestnut, was only £10 for two courses, or £15 for three.
In other words, a steal.
After much deliberation, my boyfriend opted for the Pheasant Croquettes to start (I was green with envy when they arrived – you can see why below) and I went for the Salt & Pepper Squid with Harissa Salsa. My dish was light and fresh, with a delicious batter on the squid and a punchy salsa to accompany it.
Of course, it was all cooked perfectly, but the pheasant croquettes on my boyfriend’s plate were calling my name. I had to try them.
They are basically little pockets of perfection. Gently crumbed with succulent pheasant inside, served with a vibrant red onion marmalade and nice leaf salad, it leaves you craving more. Incidentally on our next visit, which I’ll get to, I couldn’t resist these little beauts. They just don’t disappoint.
We were then, unexpectedly, treated to two extra starters courtesy of Max, who wanted us to try their killer scallops* and a plate of the most divine venison* I’ve ever tasted. Oh, go on then.
As you can see, both were beautifully presented, but most importantly the taste was something else. Scallops cooked to perfection and served with a subtle cauliflower puree, with apple and roasted cauliflower, too. These weren’t little scallops either, as you can see, they’re proper King Scallops. A really generous portion of deliciousness, right there, and cooked with real finesse.
And the venison! My god, the venison! Served a little on the rare side (just how I like it!) and served with mushroom, a red cabbage tuile-type arrangement and a smattering of mixed leaf. This, dear readers, is the dish I show everyone when I recommend Bistro Forty6. It was melt in the mouth perfection, and I’ve never eaten venison so good before.
They tend to have venison on their specials board inside the restaurant, so if you’re a meat-lover, I recommend you go for it. If memory serves, it’s around the £16 mark, which again, is an absolute steal for quality and flavour at these levels.
Next up, if you can believe we had the room; main courses. My boyfriend went for the rib-eye steak, normally £16.95, served with Viking butter on top, twice cooked chips and a herb salad, which he asked for medium-rare. It was, as expected, cooked perfectly, with the salty Viking smoked butter eliminating the need for any other condiment. A pure joy to eat, despite the fact he was already close to bursting point after three generous starters. Oops.
I went for the pork belly, served with tarragon mash, spring veg, spiced chestnut and a deliciously intense jus that complimented the whole dish really well. The pork belly was moist and moreish, with a perfect crackling on top, and the tarragon mash was so good that it’s something I’ve since tried to recreate at home.
Not as successfully as Max, of course, but a really tasty idea nonetheless. I was really struggling at this point, what with ALL OF THE FOOD, and as you can see from the snap above, this was a pretty generous portion and it was entirely delightful.
Despite being fit to burst, it was insisted that we had a dessert, and being polite citizens, we obviously obliged. I mean, it really is a tough job… So, next up was a Hot Chocolate – but not as you know it. We were served a mousse-type chocolate pot that was so rich and so delicious, along with a berry compote and handmade shortbread biscuits, complimented by a dessert wine, of which I cannot recall the name of.
I’m not usually a big fan of dessert wines, but this one really did the chocolate pot some justice, cutting through the richness of the whole thing and making it a bit more friendly to my savoury palate.
And that was pretty much experience number one. I must add, that on every visit, we’ve had fantastic service, as did every other diner in there. Nothing is too much trouble, there’s always good conversation to be had with the front-of-house staff and it has a lovely atmosphere, too.
The following two visits were both Sundays, one of which I took my Mam and brother to for Mother’s Day, and their Sunday lunch menu is equally as good value for money. I’ve had both the beef and the lamb, lamb being my absolute favourite roast, and both times it’s been fantastic.
The meat is served pink (unless you say otherwise!) and the portions are, in true Bistro Forty6 style, on the generous side, so it’s very easy to over indulge (or at least, it was for us!)
The price of the Sunday Lunch menu is almost too good to be true. I’m talking 1 course for £9.50, 2 courses for £11.50 and 3 courses for only £14 (which is less than what you’d pay for a starter in some darn places!), with huge portions of piping hot, fresh and delightful veg, cauliflower cheese, duck fat roast potatoes and gravy. Extra points for the fact you get given extra gravy without having to ask for it!
I’d go as far as to say that this place is now our go-to favourite whenever we want a great Sunday lunch, and undoubtedly the place I tell everyone to go to for the same.
I could go on and on, but to give you a brief run down on what else to try, I thought it best to just summarise the other things we’ve had on our visits to make it really simple:
– North Sea Fishcakes: I enjoyed these as part of the Sunday lunch menu, on both my second and third visit to Bistro Forty6. Served with corn puree and crab aioli, this little dish is light, fresh and very tasty. The fishcakes themselves are pretty big, packed with a mix of fresh fish (their menu is seasonal so don’t expect to have the same ones twice!) encased in a light breadcrumb.
On top of all of this is carrot shavings and mixed leaf. If you’re the kinda person who prefers a fish starter when you’re having meat for your main course, then this is the one for you. Personally I prefer it to the squid, but both are exceptional.
– Scallops with Asparagus, crab and lobster bisque*: An absolute show-stopper. Potentially the best starter I’ve ever eaten. BIG CLAIM ALERT. What’s not to love? Perfectly cooked scallops, crunchy asparagus, bits of gorgeously fresh crab and an INCREDIBLE lobster bisque. I can’t say any more than this: you need to try it. We’ve also had the scallops with pork belly, often found on the Specials board, which are equally fantastic.
– Eton Mess: A staple on the Bistro Forty6 menu, this little beauty is packed with melt-in-the-mouth meringue, fresh strawberries and raspberries, tonnes of whipped cream and chocolate shavings. If you’re like me and not much of a dessert person, this is perfect. It’s not too sweet, and the multitude of fruit makes for a refreshing palate cleanser, with the added benefit of literally perfect meringue.
At £4.95 on its own (or not, if you go for the 3 course Sunday Lunch!), it’s a really nice dessert to round things up.
– Seafood Thermidor with Squid Ink Linguine: I’ve not actually tried this myself, but as a friend has told me about it, it’s undoubtedly going to be sampled the next time we visit. Her words: “One of the best things I’ve tasted in my life!” – I doubt you need more convincing than that.
On both visits we opted for a bottle of the Beauté du Sud Malbec, which is £19.95 a bottle. We’ve also had their prosecco* (£18.95) twice, as well as the dessert wine. This may all mean that we drink too much, but it also means that I can attest that their selection of wines is great. For beer lovers, there is Tiger and Peroni, plus a ‘Beer of the Month’ which you can find out about via the chalkboards in the restaurant.
And that’s pretty much it! If you’re into seeing more of my Bistro Forty6 snaps, keep an eye on the Scran on the Tyne Twitter and Facebook feeds, because we will undoubtedly be back soon and I’ll be posting all about it.
It’s somewhere you’ll want to keep going back to, thanks to their ever-changing menu and obscenely good value for money. Not to mention the fact that it’s completely independent, so Max can basically decide on whatever specials he likes based on seasonal produce, so there are occasionally some surprises on the menu, too.
For more info on their menu, head over to the Bistro Forty6 website, or their Twitter feed for details of specials and last minute offers, and get yourself there before the secret is really out, or you’ll have a tough job getting a table! And leave the one in the window…. THAT’S OURS!
Drinks and food were all paid for by ourselves, with the exception of the extra starters, which I have marked with an asterisk throughout this review. This review is based on three recent visits to Bistro Forty6, and this is not a sponsored post. For more information or to book, you can call the restaurant on 0191 281 8081. Big thanks to Max and the team for creating such an awesome little spot – we love it!